WEIGHTLIFTING AS AN OLYMPIC SPORT
Weightlifting was a part of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. It was included in the schedule of events again in 1904, and has been contested at each Summer Games since 1920.
In 1896 and 1904, competitors participated in both one-hand and two-hand lifting events. The Clean and Press-long an integral part of Olympic weightlifting-was eliminated from competition starting in 1976 due to judging difficulties.
Many different numbers of weight classes have been tried over the years, with eight being the standard for men since 2000, and weights for each class have been periodically adjusted to allow for larger competitors.
The former Soviet Union still leads the all-time weightlifting medal standings with 62 total medals, including 39 golds. The U.S. is positioned in third place, despite decades of almost non-existent podium finishes, at 43 medals and 16 golds.
The U.S. used to produce some of the best Olympic weightlifters, and was very successful at the Games spanning the years from 1948-1964. However, no American man has won an Olympic medal in the sport since 1984.
The following list takes a look at several of the best American men in the history of Olympic weightlifting:
Isaac Berger: Competing in the Melbourne Games in 1956, Berger was among four Americans to win gold in weightlifting. The others were Charles Vinci, Tommy Kono, and the incredible Paul Anderson. Berger also earned silver medals in 1960 and 1964.
John Davis: The winner of six World Championships golds, Davis was perfect in Olympic competition with titles in 1948 and 1952. Davis was so dominant in the sport, in fact, that he did not lose for 15 years.
Peter George: A top performer from his teen years, George earned podium finishes at three consecutive Olympics between 1948-1956. His gold in 1952 was sandwiched between silvers earned in '48 and '56.
Tommy Kono: Kono was an extraordinary lifter in the 1950s and '60s, setting many world records and accumulating numerous world titles and Olympic medals. He won Olympic gold in both 1952 and 1956, and capped his career with a silver in 1960. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that his medals were earned in three different weight classes.
Norbert Schemansky: Schemansky put together an enviable list of accomplishments over his long career. In Olympic competition, he captured four medals, including the Middle-heavyweight gold in 1952.
Anthony Terlazzo: Terlazzo was the star of Olympic weightlifting for the U.S. prior to World War II. He won bronze at the Los Angeles Games in 1932, and then improved upon that finish with gold at the Berlin Games four years later.
Charles Vinci: Competing in the lightest weight class, Vinci set 12 world records and won a pair of Olympic golds, ascending to the top of the medal podium in 1956 and 1960.
Related content: A Short History of Weightlifting at the Summer Olympics
Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is already looking forward to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
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